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Can I get a usable USB DAC for $50 or less?


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After 36 years, we just moved from our house to an apartment. I've assembled all of my audio equipment from the house into a set of systems for listening in every room, with the ability to choose the same source material for all or different programs in different rooms (since my wife doesn't always like what I do....). Source and distribution were easy: my TT into a Parasound Zphono USB plus JRMC on a Linux media PC streaming FLACs from my NAS via CAT and WiFi. Renderers include a media PC, 3 laptops, an Asus Chromebox & a Beaglebone Black driving various DACs / amps / speakers.

 

I'm one DAC shy of completion, and it'll go between the BBB (USB only) and the RCA aux inputs on the soundbar from a small home theater system. After buying commercial wine racks & refrigeration and repairing or replacing all the worn out and broken stuff (lighting & plumbing fixtures, over-the-range microwave, window treatment, cabinet hardware etc etc), I want the least expensive half-decent DAC I can find. If no one has a hot tip on something at our under $50 or so, I may just take a chance on one of the $30 units I see on Amazon - SQ is not critical on a 6' x 19' enclosed patio with concrete floor and ceiling, brick walls on 3 sides, and a wall of windows on the 4th. I plan to lay a rubber tile floor, but it'll never be the Academy of Music.

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I'll say right up front I don't know of a DAC that meets your criteria. The Geek Out for ~$150 is as close as I can get.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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You'll need to check if it works with the BBB, but the Berlinger 202 models are quite reasonable for the cost.

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Thanks for a great start!!

 

You'll need to check if it works with the BBB, but the Berlinger 202 models are quite reasonable for the cost.

You're a genius, Eloise! The Behringer 202 is $30 and will probably work fine - I never gave this class of goods a thought, and it's worth a try. I've gotten some great sound out of digital interfaces meant for recording and processing, e.g. my TASCAM US-1800 (a fabulous piece - up to 24/192, solid construction, great SQ etc). But I had a floor-to-ceiling 19" rack in our house and only used rackable equipment.

 

I'll say right up front I don't know of a DAC that meets your criteria. The Geek Out for ~$150 is as close as I can get.

I didn't either, but I'm learning fast. The Shiit Modi 2 is $99 and probably a great piece. So far, I've also found Turtle Beach, Cables-to-Go, FiiO and NuForce DACS in the bargain basement. This is a great exercise - I may even try 2 or 3 of the $30 units and check them out in my good systems to see how they compare.

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You'll need to check if it works with the BBB, but the Berlinger 202 models are quite reasonable for the cost.

A post on the NwAvguy review site says it works with Ubuntu 11, so it should be fine with 14.04 (the OS currently on my BeagleBone). I know how to edit the Linux conf files, so if it doesn't come right up I can probably make it work with little effort.

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